Just as I'd always imagined it to be, just like in Shaun Tan's book, there it was!
The sun shone on Seattle today. But a wan sun. There's never that sort of lovely, intense light which the world drinks in and is intoxicated by ... The sort of light which shines on my homeland, Australia, and on the Mediterranean. Here, the light is diluted, unsatisfying, never enough to truly warm and hearten a soul.
Bens and I are just home from a really delightful evening at which a trio of chaps talked about the devil, it being Hallowe'en tomorrow. We really enjoyed conversing with one of them afterwards, a Scotsman named Bill. This is a fun week for our minds, as we're going to Revolutions' Conference on Friday, and my story is a conversation topic at the edge...
The little girls are super excited, as tomorrow being Hallowe'en, there are celebrations all day and evening, them in their fabulous Seren-created bumble-bee suits, devouring sugar. Bens is studying for a music exam tomorrow, and I am feeling very happy, the thing tonight having been at Hale's Ales, a brewery almost as good as Coopers in the Land of Oz!!
i cried just now, reading 'little house on the prairie' to eowyn and coco, at the bit where their grandma and grandpa and aunties and uncles and cousins all arrive in the dark morning, carrying candles through the woods, to say goodbye to ma and pa and laura and mary and baby carrie. it breaks my heart every time i say goodbye to each of you, darling family, yet still i want to see you and have my heart broken again and again and again. the love and the satiation of your presence for a time is worth the pain which follows. love, megs
I've just finished 'mountains beyond mountains' by tracy kidder. it's excellent. it's about the work of paul farmer, an infectious diseases doctor based in haiti ... in the book we travel to cuba, boston, peru, russia...
it was particularly helpful to me, as cange, haiti (pre paul farmer) was very like kirema, uganda, where i worked 10 years ago. the health care centre i was at wasn't meeting the needs of the community - the people were very, very poor, and the centre charged for their services, and basically nobody had any money so nobody got health care. which was dreadful. in the book, paul farmer works to provide a preferrential option for the poor (o for the p!) and creates zanmi lasante, a health centre in the central plateau of haiti, where the poor are treated for free, and people with aids and tuberculosis are given the same drugs as people in the first world (which until paul farmer was considered to not be cost effective.) and he'd walk in the mountains all day just to see one family because people matter, and lives everywhere are valuable, poor or rich, 3rd world or 1st.
this book was exceptionally helpful for me. processing my experiences in the third and developing world - mostly different countries in africa, and latin america, and asia, i have been angered, frustrated, helpless, despairing, by the sense that nothing can be done to make any difference. in each world, it's almost impossible to believe the other is real.
standing on the dusty red road in kirema, uganda, surrounded by delightful, shiny-skinned undernourished, big-eyed children, it's almost impossible to believe there's a place of wealth and cleanliness and nourishment and creature comforts. Snug in bed after a hot bath and a block of chocolate in the first world, it's almost impossible to believe there's a place of poverty and helplessness, where children die of dehydration and fever and malnutrition and malaria and diarrhoea.
in the west, a baby is welcomed with a room set aside especially for her, painted, decorated, a crib, a mobile, a dozen teddy bears, shelves of books, days on end with mother.
in the 3rd world, a baby is welcomed by her siblings squeezing together a little closer on the floor where they sleep in their mud hut. mother is so busy trying to feed and cloth her children she doesn't have time or energy to stop and gaze at her baby.
this injustice has been hiding in my heart ever since i lived in uganda, and tracy kidder's 'mountains beyond mountains' has helped a little of my ache leak out of my private world and into the realm common to humanity.
Our family doesn't go to church any more. I say I go to 'St. Nikki's' (because Nikki and I walk around Green Lake every week and talk and laugh and pray) and 'St. Benjamin's', 'St. Eowyn's' and 'St. Cosette's' because I'm lucky enough to live with those three ... So in a way we're not really not going - just depends on your definition of 'church' I guess!! Anyway, the reason I'm not going to official, formal, good ol' fashioned church is that I think it's a family thing, and Bens doesn't want to go any more ... In his words:
"We got to attend Solomon’s Porch this last summer during our 11,000 mile 33 state road trip. It was actually after visiting here that I officially finalized my long-in-the-works decison to not do Sunday morning church anymore. It was very kewl. Their meeting was in a big room with lots of couches and lazy chairs and such all arranged facing the center, and a big part of the meeting was an interview with a person who goes there who has a really fascinating story (as I very much suspect everyone does) and who was able to be very real and very honest both about her story up-til-now and about where she is now. The other kewl thing was that ‘the talk’ (the speach formerly known as the sermon) (in fact the talk was by Doug Pagitt, who talks about how sermons tend to be ’speaches’ here) was very much a discussion, where the speaker talked for a little bit about some things he’d been thinking about, and then everybody else was invited to dialogue over it–not as separate little groups, but as a big group–in other words, the speaker was not the only speaker–anybody could, and did, get to share their reactions, comments, and further thoughts right then and there. Very very kewl. I enjoyed it. I’d do it again."
Coco's lovely Sara sent us this picture!! It's of Coco's fan club dropping her off at school. Coco and Eowyn both love school. We are so thankful for their school, the EEU!! The teachers and other workers are devoted and wonderful, and the girls' little friends are delightful!
is that I don't tend to naturally share the negative side of my life with people. So now I will try to. Because there is one. For every human. etc. etc. Bla bla.
I 'have' (?) PTSD, which stands for post traumatic stress disorder. I think it kind of is, to some degree, a diagnosis of the human state of being. My specific strain is related to Eowyn and I nearly dying while giving birth, and my brother Stephen dying, and to my paternal grandfather's emotionally abusive behaviour, and the unhealthy way my family seemed fine with that. Seemed - in that everyone in the family was/is to some extent deeply hurt by him, and none of us called his behaviour for what it is. What am I talking about? Well, for example, I have memories from childhood where I sincerely believed he was trying to suffocate me to death. It seemed as if it would go on and on for ever, and throughout my childhood and adolescence I'd have flashbacks to that terror, and still sometimes do.
Dear little Stephen died when he was two, Coco's age now, and I have held his dead body in my arms, weeping for my beloved brother. Now, holding and caring for my Coco's body, i have terrifying flashbacks to Stephen's death, manifesting as specific, detailed images of Coco's death. The same thing happened inside my mind when Eowyn was two. It is HORRIBLE and I would really like it if you could pray for me to be free from this fear, as my prayers about it don't seem to make any impact.
Thanks! I know it's kind of weird writing such intense stuff on my blog out of the blue. I was looking at the beautiful autumnal pictures and thinking what an unbalanced perspective of my life they give. And I'd really like to hear your stories - the ugly, secret ones, if you want to share them - (my email is firstname.lastname@example.org) - and the joyous and the embarrassing and the delightful. It seems our stories are the essence of ... (us?) And story-telling is healing, energising, delightful, terrifying, wondrous...
I should really make that second e in pensees have an acute, but i really couldn't be bothered. so just imagine one there! Coco is saying 'Here Mum, here's your socks!' It is lovely spending lots of time with her! We just made cookies. I have a tendency to be cheerful. Shit. Coco just said 'I'm doing a wee on the counter. I did a wee on the counter." I have a little chore to do! Back soon!
Aunt Seren made Eowyn and Coco these brilliant bumble bee costumes!! They arrived today!! Australia isn't very far away... Two little bumble bees are buzz buzz buzzing all around! I have a feeling they'll wear them every day until Hallowe'en!!
...has taken portrait shots of ALL her soft toys!!! Here's Froggie (who says 'Ribbit', not 'croak' or 'Riddip' or 'Bud' or 'Groan' or 'bop-bop-bop!' ). And here too are pics of our LOGOS II reunion weekend, which Bens writes about amazingly on his blog (The link is nearby... Beware!!)
We are going up to Canada on Sunday to see our friend Emily, who has recently moved to UBC, and to get a breath of Commonwealth air (ahhhhhhhhhhh!) and because our most excellent guest wants to!!!!!
Bens is studying for a maths exam tomorrow, so is alternatively gloomy and jubilant, depending on where he is in the process of learning a particular element of The Calculus.
Coco is so joyous! She is almost always ABSOLUTELY delighted to see everybody, including Peter Robinson, whom she was meeting for the first time at the airport today!!
Being at the airport made me SO excited about flying to Australia in just 45 days!! GOODY!!!
This week is rainy and dark and oppressive. I am a simple lass, who loves sunshine. Coco's teachers at school adore her, naturally, and are excellent! Eowyn is home sick today, poor lamb. Her face lit up when I told her that, as a little girl, I was just like her, and would forget entirely the chore I was supposedly doing and read a book!! The girls are learning North American sign language, using a book given them by Great Auntie Nancie.
I am frustrated ... the pics of Coco with her teachers just won't upload - is it just me, or does everybody else have trouble getting images onto these silly blog posts? It's somewhat ridiculous.
Two little girls are having eggs for brekkie! Delightful them. I am feeling flat and yukky. I haven't slept for a week. Bens has decided he really isn't a Christian, and I am taking this really hard. Hang on ... my Princesses are requesting more eggs...please, of course!!
Eowyn, Coco and Bens all go to school at the University of Washington ... where the girls were born! It's lovely having lunch with Bens and whichever girl isn't at school then. Reminiscent of Cambridge days, when I was the little child and not the mummy, enjoying the beautiful setting and the lovely cosiness of family.
Our poor little car broke down today and had to be towed home!! Deary me. Bens has it going again, but says it's only a matter of time. Ah, in Cambridge, all 5 Jones' got around on 2 sturdy bikes ... and as it happens, Bens and I each have sturdy bikes, and the girls too, AND their fab chariot!!!!
Coco and I had a most delightful playdate today with Tierney and Coco (& baby Sam when he awoke!) Eowyn is holding the cake I attempted to make, which flopped! Domesticity isn't one of my strengths!! Bens and I are watching Mission Impossible III and Tom Cruise just climbed the wall and is wandering around the Vatican disguised as a monk, fulfilling a most complicated plot. I never really understand the plots in movies. I think it's from being brought up without TV. I don't mind. (The people I'm watching with sometimes do!!!)
"...there will be nothing to give pain, but everything that the wisdom and goodness of God can create to give happiness. As recompense for what they (Emma!) once suffered ... they shall enjoy happiness suited to their state, without alloy, without interruption and without end.... What, if it should then please the all-wise, the all-glorious Creator to raise them higher in the scale of beings? What, if it should please him ... to make them ... capable of knowing and loving and enjoying the Author of their being?" The General Deliverance, Sermon 60
I love this little girl, and her big sister!!! She is climbing on my back, declaring 'That's COCO!!' Eowyn is on the phone to Hua Hua, her school bus buddy, Bens is at uni doing The Calculus, & I am reading 'The Magician's Nephew' for the 107th time & loving it!!!!!!! Much love to you, Megs
Hello! It's really cold today! We have our lovely, cosy fire burning, reminiscent of Celtic hearths of yore, where my ancestors loved to be. Bens is a bit of a hobbity hearth lover. I like to venture out... We've been talking about maybe (down the way a little) together, Bens and I, doing a Masters in Third World Development. We both feel strongly about wanting to work towards righting the huge injustices in our world, and are a little stymied as to HOW.
Bens very kindly looked after Eowyn and Coco today, & my friend Jana's husband Tim looked after Ella and Colin, so we got to have Mummy time off together, which was really fun. We took a long, long walk, through forests and by Puget Sound Beaches, and really relaxed.
The thing about having time away from my Princesses though is that I really notice how incredibly hard work being a Mum is, and feel a bit cross and put out when I return and have to labour. I'm glad my little family are so very delightful, as that puts a sparkle in the plod
Sheer plod makes plough down scillion shine And blue-bleak embers Ahh my dear Fall, gall themselves and gash gold vermillion!!
Gerard Manly Hopkins (Remembered from HSC English Lit! WOW! That's 19 years ago!! Ahhhhh my dear!!!)